Liposculpture vs Liposuction: what's the difference?

What is the difference between Liposculpture and Liposuction? Does the difference have more to do with what part of the body is being targeted and not so much is one better than the other overall?


F, 44, Tennessee

Liposuction and liposculpture are the same procedure. With so many liposuction-related terms out there it can get pretty confusing, even for doctors who aren’t plastic surgeons. Some of the terms for liposuction stem from the natural evolution of the procedure while other terms were created to intentionally deceive people and create hype.

To help you understand, here is a breakdown of some liposuction terms:

  • Traditional liposuction is an older procedure that no longer exists. It entailed suctioning fat from under the skin without first injecting a tumescent solution.
  • Tumescent liposuction, aka suction-assisted lipectomy or SAL, involves an injection of a swelling solution combined with a numbing medication and epinephrine, in order to cause blood vessel spasms and reduce blood loss followed shortly thereafter by the actual liposuction procedure. What people might not realize is that all plastic surgeons use this method.
  • Ultrasonic-assisted lipectomy, or UAL, uses sound waves to jostle and break fat cells from within through the use of an ultrasound probe. The fat is then suctioned out using a cannula .
  • VASER is a marketing term used to describe a form of UAL.
  • Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) involves the use of a handheld tool to move the cannula. Surgeons prefer this technology as it is less strenuous and can result in a shorter procedure time.
  • Laser liposuction, aka laser-assisted liposuction or LAL, uses a laser fiber, which is moved around in the fat to heat it up. This produces a fluid that is then suctioned out via the usual method. Laser manufacturers claim that this technique is superior to other methods but studies have yet to confirm that as the truth.

In the end, it’s not a matter of liposuction vs liposculpture, or any of these other terms. Achieving the best results depends largely on the skill and experience of your surgeon and whether or not you are a good candidate for body contouring via liposuction.

Dr. Jonathan Heistein has 2 Liposuction before & afters:

Liposuction before image performed by Dr. Jonathan HeisteinLiposuction after image performed by Dr. Jonathan HeisteinLiposuction before image performed by Dr. Jonathan HeisteinLiposuction after image performed by Dr. Jonathan Heistein

» View Dr. Jonathan Heistein's full profile

Liposculpture procedures are the same as liposuction procedures and both are the same as liposelection procedures. The difference in terminology is, unfortunately, just an example of the way plastic surgery is marketed. So don’t feel like you’re the only one confused by plastic surgery terminology.

That being said, the “sculpt” part of the the liposculpture term does make sense: one
of the primary goals of liposuction is to sculpt the treated area. In other words, it’s not just about fat removal or targeting stubborn fat deposits and problem areas, such as the love handles. Contact a board-certified plastic surgeon if you want to be better informed.

Liposculpture is the same thing as liposuction. It doesn’t have anything to do with what part of the body is being targeted.

The term liposculpture is used in specific situations:

  • To describe liposuction procedures performed with the intent of changing the shape or contours of the body;
  • As a marketing term to make the procedure sound more attractive;
  • To describe liposuction procedures involving the extraction of small amounts of unwanted fat in order to enhance the appearance of certain areas (e.g., the neck, jawline, hips, knees or abs in people who are not overweight).

To learn more about liposuction and all of the various terminology used to describe it, schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can sift through any confusion and explain your options.